Over 2,000 activists attended the Americans for Prosperity Foundation's 3rd annual Defending the Dream Summit, Washington, DC, October 2nd and 3rd. Jason was working, but my sister and I drove up October 1st rather than take the buses up EARLY October 2nd. By going a day early, we were able to attend an additional grassroots training session Friday morning.
The Summit was exceptionally well-organized, and, like the 912 March on the Capitol, the attendees were happy, polite, motivated, polite... no angry mobs, racists, or Nazis in sight.
North Carolina had the largest delegation, boasting 451 of the 2,000 activists in attendance. We met another dozen North Carolinians at the hotel, who like us, had driven up a day early. Since we didn't come up on a bus, the Virginians were very kind and not only allowed us to ride their bus from the hotel to the Capitol, they also gave us two very nice signs!
Although I've been to the City many, many times -- and nothing can ever compare to the 912 March (unless we do it again next year and it doubles in size) -- the view for the press conference was magnificent. My sister, Sharon, below center in a bright red sweater that made her easier to find.
You may notice from the photos, that there were all ages represented at the summit. I met many young men and women, ages 25-30, some veterans, who had either created their own local grassroots groups. Or who are already planning to run for elected office at the local level. The conversations with these younger activists were fantastic. They're well-educated in a wide, wide variety of topics. I asked one young Texan if he was an economics minor, after a spirited conversation on the bus ride back from Capitol Hill to hotel. He's not. He's just informed. And motivated. And committed. This grassroots movement is not going away. It's going to grow.
Great signs, as always. I'll add more or put a montage on my YouTube channel.
Neither Senator was available to meet with us; Senator Kay Hagan (D) had her office overrun by over 450 constituents. The photos above and below this text are of North Carolinians, listening to an Aide from Senator Richard Burr's office who came out to thank us for our activism and support.
Senator Hagan's office is in the Dirksen Senate Office Building and we broke into four groups to deliver the tens of thousands of Hands off our Healthcare petitions. We formed smaller groups and entered the building at four, eventually five, separate locations or we would have overwhelmed the security screening checkpoints.
As you can see, we did fill the Halls of Congress (well, at least the halls to Kay Hagan's office!) to capacity. The young staffers looked like deer-in-the-headlights when we just kept coming. Most were polite. One security guard made a rude comment about "the protesters." Am sure she's kind when the SEIU, MoveOn.org and ACORN people (perpetrators?) come through security. I smiled at her and told her we were quite happily exercising our rights to freedom of speech and assembly. That didn't go over well, but at least she's well-trained because she decided to not reply.
We all had petitions to deliver to Senator Hagan's office and all 450 of us entered single-file, handed over petitions, signed the guestlist and left our comments concerning healthcare. Whether anyone even counts petitions or signatures may be moot, but we certainly made our presence known with sheer numbers.
And THAT was just an overview of Friday morning and afternoon. Will add more tomorrow about Friday night's Tribute to Ronald Reagan Dinner. And Saturday morning's annual meeting, speakers, the roll call of states' activities. Saturday afternoon's Grassroots training will be another post.
Just a hint to pique your interest... one session, titled Net Neutrality and Internet Regulation, drew over 150 attendees. The IT Geeks (written lovingly, I am the WORST technogeek ever) but the four presenters had prepared handouts for 50. We had at least four dozen people standing along the back wall and sitting on the floor in the center aisle.
And the information they provided was worth it. Because if the administration's plans succeed, you will no longer have the opportunity to read this blog. Which you might consider a good thing after this very long post.
But the plans are actually quite chilling.